Topeka Kansas asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to force Nebraska to stop using the Republican River to irrigate hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland, insisting that the state is violating a water-use agreement.
Kansas Attorney General Steve Six filed a petition in a long-running dispute between the neighboring states over the river. Kansas officials contend that Nebraska is violating a 2003 decree from the high court and owes the state $72 million in damages.
“Nebraska isn’t listening,” said Six’s spokesman, Gavin Young. “Our only remaining recourse is to return to the court.”
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said his state has been in compliance with the agreement since 2006. Last year, an arbitrator appointed by both states rejected nearly all of Kansas’ claims for monetary damages in a nonbinding ruling.
“We are prepared to vigorously defend the state,” Bruning said in a statement Tuesday.
If Kansas prevails, Nebraska will be forced to stop irrigating about 500,000 acres in the 1.2 million-acre Republican River basin and farmers there would have to rely on rain in growing their crops.
Nebraska also would have to compensate Kansas for the economic gains it has reaped from using too much water. The figure isn’t specified in Kansas’ petition to the Supreme Court, but the state has previously calculated it at $72 million.